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Essential Tattoo Tips: Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Tattoo Experience

Whether you’re about to get your first tattoo or adding to your collection, the process of getting a tattoo is always exciting. Yet, it can be challenging – from selecting the right tattoo artist to enduring the discomfort, from taking care of your fresh ink to considering an appropriate gratuity. That’s why we’ve gathered these essential tattoo tips to guide you through each step of your tattoo journey.

mantle tattoo shop dtla

Tattoo Tips for Choosing the Right Tattoo Artist

Choosing the right tattoo artist is crucial for making your vision come to life. It’s not just about the skill, but also about connecting with someone who understands your idea and can translate it accurately onto your skin. Here are some tattoo tips to help you select the right professional. 

  1. Check Their Portfolio: A professional tattoo artist will have a portfolio, either online or in the studio. Assess their previous work and see if their style aligns with what you have in mind. You can also check out their social media, we post artwork to our Instagram regularly and most other shops and artists do, too.
  2. Read Reviews: Online reviews can offer insight into other clients’ experiences with the artist. However, remember to take these reviews with a grain of salt — one negative review shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker. Look for patterns in reviews. People leaving comments about the same things will tell you the kind of experience you’re in for. Not to brag, but our reviews on Yelp and Google are a good example of what you’d hope to find.
  3. Ask for Recommendations: Friends or family members who have tattoos can be good resources. They can share their experiences and might have found an artist they trust — a big plus when getting a tattoo.
  4. Meet Them in Person: Stop into the shop or schedule a time to chat to discuss your design and gauge the artist’s demeanor. For the best experience, you should feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your needs. Schedule a consultation with us to discuss your tattoo ideas and bring them to life!

Researching Tattoo Designs and Styles

When diving into the world of tattoos, your imagination is your only limit – but a good starting point is knowing different tattoo styles. Here are some essential tattoo tips to help guide your research. 

  1. Use the Internet: The internet is a treasure trove of tattoo designs and styles. Use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram for visual inspiration, where you can explore both traditional and creative, out-of-the-box designs.
  2. Explore Tattoo Styles: Just like art, tattoos come in a plethora of styles. From varied traditional styles to newer genres like neo traditional and realism. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the different options before choosing your design. Each style has its unique elements and knowing what vibe you want your tattoo to represent can narrow down your options. 
  3. Think About Symbolism: Many people get tattoos that have a particular meaning or symbolism to them. If you’re one such individual, think about what symbols or images embody the message you want to convey. We discuss similar ideas in our article about choosing the right font for your script tattoo, where deciding on a vibe and symbolism is crucial!
  4. Consider Customization: If you want an entirely unique tattoo, think about designing your own. Many tattoo artists will happily collaborate with you to develop a custom design – just remember to communicate your ideas clearly and bring a few ideas and examples!
realistic tattoos spongebob

Ultimately, researching tattoo designs and styles can be a fun, creative process. Soak up all the tattoo tips and advice you read, ask questions, and stay open to inspiration wherever it strikes.

Preparing for Your Tattoo Session

The euphoria of deciding to get a new tattoo may have you buzzing with excitement, but remember, preparation is key. There are a few tattoo tips you can follow for a smoother process: 

  1. Hydrate and Nourish: Make sure you’re well-hydrated and have eaten a substantial meal before your tattoo session. Low blood sugar can lead to dizziness or fainting. Plus, you probably won’t be able to eat anything while you’re there. So it’s best to come prepared! And don’t forget to hydrate! 
  2. Don’t Drink or Do Drugs: Alcohol and drugs can thin your blood, which can cause more bleeding during your tattoo session. Stay away from them the night before and the day of your appointment.
  3. Bring Distractions: If it’s a long session, bringing headphones and a tablet with Netflix on it might be a good idea. For shorter sessions, your social media might be enough. Sometimes you can also bring a friend to keep you company but always ask before you do! It’s important to understand tattoo etiquette before you sit in the chair.
  4. Keep Calm: Anxiety can tense your muscles, making the process more uncomfortable than it needs to be.
  5. Communicate: Be sure to let your artist know if you’re feeling uneasy or experiencing discomfort.

If you’re thinking of a spontaneous trip to get inked, read our article about the walk in tattoo shop experience.

Tattoo Tips on What to Wear

Your clothing choice for the session is another essential preparation aspect. Opt for loose and comfortable clothes.

  • If your tattoo is going on a body part covered by your clothes, wear something you won’t mind getting ink-stained.
  • Wear something that allows easy access to the part of your body getting tattooed. 
  • Be comfortable, especially if you’re going to sit there for a few hours.

You’re ready to embark on the next stage of your tattoo journey. Remember that every little detail counts. Ensuring proper preparation can significantly enhance your tattooing experience.

Understanding the Tattoo Process

When you’re getting a tattoo, it’s important to understand the process. This way, you know if the shop you’ve gone to has the right standards, you know how to prepare yourself before you go, and you can protect your tattoo after you’ve gotten it.


Typically, your tattoo journey will begin with a consultation. This is where you discuss your tattoo ideas with the artist, ask questions, and set expectations. As one of the major tattoo tips, we urge you to utilize this time to build a rapport with your artist, which will help you feel more comfortable during the process. Questions about this part of the process? Contact us!

Settling on a Design 

During the consultation, you’ll have expressed all of your ideas and decided on placement with the artist so now, they need to draw up the design. They’ll show you what they’ve come up with either before the appointment or during. This is your opportunity to make any last-minute changes.

tattoo tips for the process

Stencil Creation 

Once you’ve settled on a design, your artist will create a stencil. This is usually printed onto transfer paper and then applied to your skin. It forms an outline for your tattoo, providing a perfect guide for the artist. 


Here’s where the real work begins. Typically, the process starts with the outline, followed by shading, and then the color—although the exact procedure might differ based on your design and the artist’s preferences. One handy tattoo tip here is to ensure you communicate with your artist during the session to maintain your comfort levels. 

Finishing and Bandaging 

After the tattoo is complete, the artist will clean the area and cover it with a bandage to protect it from bacteria. It’s crucial that you follow any advice given by the artist regarding this bandage, such as when to remove it and how to clean the wound afterward. They should give you clear aftercare instructions and inform you of the healing process!

Taking Care of Your Tattoo Aftercare

Truth be told, proper tattoo aftercare plays a vital role in helping your new ink heal correctly, and this aspect is not given enough importance sometimes. Here are some all-important tattoo tips to ensure that your tattoo stays vibrant and fresh for years to come.

1. Follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice. 

Your tattoo artist will undoubtedly provide you with aftercare advice, and it’s crucial to follow their guidelines. They are the experts and know exactly how to take care of their work.

2. Keep the tattoo clean and moisturized 

It’s necessary to maintain the cleanliness of your tattoo as it’s, in essence, an open wound. After removing the initial dressing, gentle cleaning with warm water and mild soap is advised. However, be sure to thoroughly rinse the soap to prevent irritation. Using a moisturizer recommended by your artist can also help promote healing and avoid flaking or scabbing. 

Tattoo Tips for Applying Tattoo Ointment

When applying the moisturizer, remember that less is more. Too much ointment can deprive the skin of the oxygen it needs to heal, while too little can promote dryness. Aim to apply a thin layer of the product, enough to make the skin shine, and do so a few times a day.

3. Stay away from direct sunlight 

Direct sunlight can be detrimental to your new tattoo, causing it to fade prematurely and making the skin sensitive (think potential sunburn). Ideally, you should avoid excessive sun exposure until it’s completely healed. And do not put SPF on a fresh tattoo! Consult your artists for questions or contact us.

4. No water submersion

Just like with sun exposure, submersion in water, especially in chlorinated pools or ocean water, can dampen your tattoo color. This activity should also be avoided until your tattoo has completely healed. Plus, bacteria can get in your fresh wound and that is not pretty.

5. Don’t scratch 

Once the tattoo starts healing, it can become itchy. Fighting the urge to scratch can be tough, but it’s all for your own good. Scratching can lead to scarring and infection, not to mention it can exacerbate fading. 

walk in tattoo shop - mantle tattoo downtown los angeles

Covering Up or Removing Unwanted Tattoos

Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes, one of those mistakes might be a tattoo you now regret. Whether it’s the name of an ex-partner or a poorly executed design, you don’t have to live with a tattoo you don’t love anymore. Here are some practical tattoo tips on cover ups or remove unwanted tattoos. 

Consider Tattoo Cover-Ups 

A tattoo cover-up is a design that’s tattooed over the top of an existing one. Essentially, you’re using the bad tattoo as a base for a better, bigger design. A skilled tattoo artist knows the colors and patterns that can effectively mask your old tattoo while creating a new masterpiece. 

The success of a cover-up depends on the size, color, and design of your existing tattoo and your skin, so seek expert advice before you decide to proceed.

Tattoo Removal Processes 

Tattoo removal is another option to rid yourself of unwanted ink. The most common method is laser tattoo removal, which uses laser technology to break down and fade the tattoo’s ink. The process generally requires multiple sessions and could be painful, more so than getting the tattoo in the first place. 

Tattoo Tips for Choosing the Right Placement

Selecting the perfect spot for your tattoo is a vital decision. Consider it something akin to real estate – location means everything. Here, we’re going to provide you with some valuable tattoo tips for selecting the right tattoo placement

Mantle Tattoo_downtown Los Angeles_watercolor_oragami tattoo

Before settling on a spot, think about the visibility of your tattoo. Are you fine with it being visible at all times, or would you rather keep it private? Different professions have different rules regarding tattoos, so bear this in mind. 

  • Visibility: Body parts like the arm, neck, or wrist can make your tattoo quite visual to nearly everyone. If you need to conceal it for work or other circumstances, consider areas like your back, legs, or torso.
  • Pain factor: Some body parts might be more sensitive than others when getting tattooed. Areas with less fat can be more painful, like the wrist, ankle, rib cage, or collar bone.
  • Size and shape: The design of your tattoo can look different depending on where you place it. Larger tattoos may fit better on larger body surfaces like the back or chest. Minor designs can compliment smaller spots, such as behind the ear or on the finger.

One thing to remember, however, is that pain tolerance varies from person to person. What might be painful for one might be a breeze for another. Let’s give you an idea of pain levels at a few locations: 

PlacementPain Level

Note: The information in this table is subjective and may differ between individuals due to different pain tolerances.

When choosing your tattoo placement, consider the future as well. If you plan on getting more tattoos, think ahead and leave room for them too! 

Tattoo Tips for Pricing and Budgeting

Discerning how much a tattoo will cost and creating a budget for it is a critical step in the tattoo process. Being able to budget involves understanding your chosen artist’s pricing strategy, anticipating extra costs like aftercare products, and saving for a gratuity. 

Understanding Your Artist’s Pricing 

The cost of a tattoo can vary dramatically based on size, complexity, color, and the artist’s experience. Most tattoo artists charge either a flat fee per tattoo or an hourly rate. It’s important to confer with your artist before the session to understand their pricing and plan accordingly. 

Remember, you are not just paying for their time but also their years of expertise and creativity. 

Tattoo Tips for Anticipating Extra Costs 

A budget for a tattoo should include not only the cost of the tattoo itself but also any extra costs. This might incorporate the cost of consulting appointments, design modifications, aftercare products, and travel to and from the tattoo studio. Make sure to factor these into your overall budget so there are no surprises. 

Note: High-quality tattoos are an investment, and as with any investment, they shouldn’t be rush decisions just to save a few bucks.

Tattoo Tips – Gratuity for Your Artist

Similar to many service industries, it’s standard practice to tip your tattoo artist in gratitude for their craftsmanship and service. Tattoo tips on gratuity vary, but generally, good etiquette suggests tipping around 20% of the total cost. Of course, if the artist went above and beyond, feel free to tip more generously. 

Getting a tattoo is an exciting and unique experience. By following the above tattoo tips on pricing and budgeting, you can ensure you get the best value for your money without straining your wallet.

Choosing the Right Tattoo Parlor

Just like choosing the right tattoo design, selecting the right tattoo parlor is crucial for your tattoo journey. You want to make sure you’re getting inked in a professional, clean, and safe environment – and here are some tattoo tips to help! 

Hygiene and Cleanliness 

First things first – hygiene. The most important of the tattoo tips that we could give you: pay attention to their health and safety practices. You don’t want to risk any infections or complications due to unsanitary practices. We recommend reading our article about the health and safety benefits of reputable tattoo places for more information. Visit the shop and check if it meets these standards: 

  • Is the studio clean and tidy?
  • Are the artists wearing disposable gloves and changing them regularly?
  • Do they use fresh needles and ink for every customer?
  • Do they sterilize their equipment?
  • Are the artists certified in bloodborne pathogens and cross-contamination training?
reputable tattoo places sanitary standards

Professionalism and Experience

Next, assess the professionalism and experience of the shop’s staff. This is not just about how friendly they are, but also about their expertise, knowledge, and ability to guide you through the process. Ask these questions: 

  • Are the artists experienced in your desired tattoo style?
  • Do they take time to understand your design ideas?
  • Are they willing to offer advice based on your body, skin type, and pain tolerance?
  • Do they seem rushed or fully attentive to your needs?
Mantle Tattoo_downtown Los Angeles_neo traditional_tiger tattoo

Portfolio and Reviews

Another of the most important tattoo tips: don’t forget to check out the parlor’s portfolio and reviews. You want to be sure that the artists have a solid track record of creating remarkable tattoos before you go!

  • Does the parlor have a portfolio of their work?
  • Are there rave reviews about the parlor and its artists?
  • Did previous clients speak positively about their experience?

Remember, getting a tattoo is not just about the end result. It’s the overall experience, from entering the parlor to unveiling your beautiful new tattoo. Choose wisely and you’re reducing your chances for negative outcomes or unwanted surprises. Your skin deserves the best!

Finding Inspiration for Your Tattoo

Finding inspiration for your tattoo design can often be as challenging as choosing the right artist or the perfect placement. If you feel overwhelmed or lost, don’t worry, we’ve got some excellent tattoo tips to help guide your inspiration search. It’s all about finding something meaningful, personal, and aesthetically pleasing to you. 

Reflect on Your Personal Story: Consider aspects of your life that feel significant. These could include experiences, beliefs, relationships, or interests. A tattoo could represent a personal milestone or a transformation, a tribute to someone special, or simply a motif you find profoundly beautiful. 

Explore Various Art Styles: From traditional and tribal to minimalist and watercolor, there’s a plethora of tattoo styles out there. Explore various art and tattoo styles to find one that resonates with your aesthetic preference. You could draw inspiration from paintings, sculptures, graphic designs, cartoons, even architecture. 

MantleTattoo_Los Angeles_realism_eagle tattoo

Look to Nature 

Nature is a common source of tattoo inspiration. Floral tattoos, animal motifs, celestial bodies, landscapes – these all make beautiful and symbolic tattoos. Think about your favorite elements of nature or the symbols that resonate with you.

Cultural and Spiritual Symbols 

If cultural or spiritual symbols hold significant meaning for you, they might serve as the perfect inspiration for your tattoo. However, be sure to thoroughly research and understand the symbol’s meaning and social implications. Being respectful to cultures other than your own is vitally important. 

Quotes, Lyrics, and Literature 

Words often have the power to move us, inspire us, and define us. A memorable quote, a powerful line from a song, or a passage from a beloved book might serve as the perfect inspiration for your tattoo. Something that speaks to you on a profound level could translate beautifully into a text-based tattoo. 

Whatever you’re choosing to get, we have various articles that can help you. Need help deciding on tattoo sleeve ideas? What about a fine line masterpiece? We’ve got you covered.

Mantle Tattoo DTLA

We’re happy to provide you with tattoo tips no matter where you get your tattoo done–you should have a positive experience anywhere you go–but we do hope it’s with us. 

Schedule a consultation with us to talk about bringing your tattoo ideas to life!

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